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You Can Hear the Wind

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He can’t breathe.

 

Strong fingers on his throat - pain in the chest – blurry face of an enraged man in front of him – can’t-can’t-can’t-

 

Sherlock takes two long strides to the window, wrenches it open and takes a deep breath of early-evening August air. In under a second John is next to him, peering out over his shoulder.

 

“Something happening outside? What did you see?”

 

Back off. There’s an acidic uproar in his belly and bile in his mouth.

 

“Sherlock? You all right?”

 

He shakes his head.

 

“Sherlock?”

 

Back off.

 

Please.

 

“You look a bit peaky,” John says, putting a hand on his shoulder.

 

Then there are fingers on his forehead. Nothing sensual, just a casual feeling for his temperature and brushing through a lock near his ear, but it’s everything, everything – it’s too much – Sherlock jerks away and retreats deeper into the room.

 

“I’m fine,” he barks.

 

“You feel hot.”

 

I don’t need a doctor.

 

“Have you eaten today?”

 

Or a mother.

 

Sherlock grabs the violin from his armchair and throws himself into it. Some angry Bach should do it.

 

“Come on,” John says in his ‘let’s-be-adult-about-this’ voice. “I’ll make you a toast and then we’ll order Chinese.”

 

The Bach turns even more staccato - definitely more than it should be-, but Sherlock doesn’t even wish to moderate it.

 

Sherlock hears a sigh from behind him. “Fine. All right then. I’m off.”

 

On a date.

 

He stops playing.

 

With a man.

 

Sherlock’s brain is a mass of discordant thoughts. No, not thoughts. Feelings. Disgusting.

 

Fine. Just- He swallows thickly. Just fine.

 

oOo

 

Beep.

 

„John, a text,“ Sherlock shouts and glances back out the window. Light drizzle. Chill. Matches. He raises his bow.

 

„What?“ John answers from the bathroom.

 

„A text,“ Sherlock repeats. “Get it!” And resumes his play.

 

„Get it yourself, I’m in the shower.“

 

“No, you’re not.”

 

“As well as am. Starkers,” John shouts back and Sherlock’s rhythm falters, a note halts, unfinished. For a moment the sombre September rain in front of his eyes is replaced by vivid images of John’s hot slick skin, wide shoulder blades and a lone drop sliding down his neck.

 

Vaguely he hears the bathroom door slam and the world rights itself. Sherlock glances at the mobile on the mantelpiece and grits his teeth. He puts the violin down. After a moment he’s already staring at the phone in his hand.

 

John told him to get it, didn’t he? Sherlock grimaces. He puts the phone back.

 

oOo

 

“The text,” Sherlock says flatly and lifts The Guardian in front of his face.

 

John is dressed up. New shoes. Fresh shave, a button down instead of one of his customary jumpers.

 

A date.

 

“What?” John turns around. He seems distracted.

 

“The text,” Sherlock bites out.

 

“Right.” John nods, annoyed. “Couldn’t you get it yourself?”

 

Sherlock sends him a look. “I thought I was forbidden from touching your private correspondence?”

 

John sighs. “You meant I had a text?”

 

Sherlock stares at him pointedly.

 

“Right.” John reaches towards the mantelpiece on which his phone lies. “Oh,” he says after half a minute.

 

The ‘oh’ is disappointed and Sherlock glances up from behind his paper. John is still staring at the text.

 

“Stood you up, did he?” Sherlock tries to sound indifferent, but knows that John will probably hear the glee in his tone anyway. “You don’t seem to be doing any better with men than women after all, do you? Maybe you should stick to what you know?”

 

“That has nothing to do with gender, as you well know.” John pockets the phone. “I just have to start paying them more attention than I do you. Besides, for once, your deduction is wrong. Craig’s not standing me up; he’s just late. Something’s come up apparently.”

 

“A better offer?”

 

John glares at him, then sits on the armrest of his armchair and sighs resignedly. “Look, I know the business has been somewhat slow recently, but there’s no reason to start getting at me, is there? You want me to blog a cry for help for you?”

 

“A cry-? What?” Sherlock throws The Guardian on the sofa, and jumps up. “A cry for help? And exactly what, pray tell me, do I need help with? Just because there’s no ‘three-continents’ to my name doesn’t mean-”

 

“Sherlock,” John says with a slightly bewildered look on his face. “I meant more cases. Work for your brain. Nothing more.”

 

Sherlock feels a weird hotness spreading from his chest towards his neck. He lifts his chin a notch higher. It’s just digestion, shouldn’t have eaten today.

 

“You should be more precise with your wording.” He lies back down and grabs the discarded paper.

 

“I do know how you feel about relationships, Sherlock. You made it perfectly clear that first time at Angelo’s.”

 

The Guardian stares at him, letters a pointless mesh. Discarding the paper, Sherlock scoffs, stands up again and steps on the table, marching straight to the fridge. It’s probably time to resume with the caterpillars versus grubs experiment anyway. Thankfully John decides to let the argument go. Incidentally. Incidentally, not thankfully.

 

It is only an hour later that he notices that John is out, and two hours and forty-seven minutes after that he hears him come back in an apparently fabulous mood, whistling. Sherlock pays no attention.

 

oOo

 

Of course, Sherlock knows that John was interested in him when they first met. But it had been just hero worship, hadn’t it? Before Dr Craig D. Harper he’d never even dreamt that John could feel anything sexual towards a man. Had John been actually interested? Sherlock has no idea.

 

“I’m going out,“ John shouts from the door and bounds down the stairs without waiting for a response.

 

Crack, goes the pen between Sherlock’s fingers. John isn’t supposed to date men. It turns out to be the first time since he started up with Craig where John doesn’t come back before morning.

 

oOo

 

In November, somewhere between the twenty-first and twenty-fourth date, Sherlock notices a change in John. He’s tense and moody. He doesn’t grab his phone straight after the beep and often leaves the room to read the text or take the call.

 

Then there’s an eleven-day pause between the dates and the sudden “I’m going out” from John is startling.

 

“Where?” Sherlock doesn’t like feeling startled.

 

John turns to him, a look of slight surprise on his face. “What? Can’t you deduce it yourself?”

 

Sherlock raises his eyes from the screen and blinks slowly. “Of course I can, I just want to hear you say it.”

 

John rolls his eyes, annoyed. He’s not dressed up, but the clothes are decent and fresh and it’s just after seven. It’s not a date. Sherlock relaxes.

 

Or he’s stopped making an effort and it is a date. Sherlock’s sudden inability to tell is alarming.

 

“Well?” John asks, putting his jacket on.

 

His best jacket. Could be a coincidence. Or a date. He still looks good enough for it. Except that John tends to be self-conscious, so it’s probably not.

 

“Groceries,” Sherlock risks. “We’re out of milk,” he remembers.

 

“Right. Omniscient as always. You need anything?”

 

“No, thanks.”

 

oOo

 

John sniffs, then sneezes. His nose is red and eyes watery.

 

“Go home, you’re a liability,” Sherlock hisses under his breath.

 

“I said I’m fine!”

 

“Sh!” He runs behind another cargo container. Stubbornly, John follows.

 

“Hey!” he hears a rough voice from behind and turns. “Don’t you bloody move!” the thug yells, a gun aimed at Sherlock, but there’s a shot from behind. His attacker falls and John grabs his elbow. They run left and then crouch between a lorry and a wall. John wipes his nose with the hand that’s holding the SIG. His mouth is open and he’s blinking furiously.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck,Sherlock chants in his head because John is in no shape to fight and Sherlock had known that and still he–

 

“Let’s go,” John orders and is away.

 

Sherlock follows him into a warehouse and behind tall crate towers.

 

“Do you think there’re more besides Callum and Harvey?”

 

Sherlock can see the warm air coming out of John’s mouth; it’s so cold.

 

“Sherlock?”

 

“Unlikely,” he mutters under his breath. John’s doesn’t have a scarf. Why doesn’t he have a scarf?

 

“You’re just saying that. There’s no way for you to know.”

 

“Why’d you ask then?”

 

Sherlock probably sounds too harsh, but John usually doesn’t mind. Now, though, his jaw clenches and he doesn’t answer. Sherlock contemplates sneaking towards the cubicle type office somewhere to the left, but the thought of dragging an unwell John with him is unappealing.

 

“Are you all right?” Sherlock asks after a while.

 

“Fine.”

 

“I mean the cold.”

 

“I said, I’m fine!”

 

Suddenly the overhead lights come on and there’s the sound of several pairs of feet running towards them. Harvey is shouting to his men to spread. Sherlock freezes and John raises his gun, but before the smugglers reach their hiding place they hear police sirens.

 

oOo

 

When John finally emerges form the interrogation room he looks even more ill than before. He probably has a temperature.

 

He startles when he sees Sherlock and frowns. “You shouldn’t have waited for me.”

 

“Lestrade wanted to go over some cases with me. How did it go?”

 

“There’s going to be a hearing, but there’s the security footage, so it’s just a formality.”

 

“Yes, I told them to take a look at it.”

 

“Of course, you did. No reason to worry then, was there?”

 

“Why would I worry?” Sherlock asks before he realises that John was just being sarcastic.

 

During the taxi ride John sneezes and blows his nose several times, and when they enter the flat John heads straight upstairs.

 

“Tea?” Sherlock asks, because John always makes tea before bed, but the only answer he gets is forceful stomping and a door slam.

 

oOo

 

Several weeks of John’s moody avoidance and occasional sarcasm have Sherlock on edge. Other people telling him to piss off literally or figuratively he can deal with; John being vindictive, he can’t, so when one Friday his flatmate comes down in his best button-down and new slacks-

 

“You seeing Craig still?” Sherlock snaps.

 

John’s eyebrows rise. “Of course I’m still seeing him.”

 

For a minute they face off, neither saying anything.

 

“You don’t like him,” John states. “Why? You told me he was trustworthy.”

 

Sherlock shrugs and turns on his back, closing his eyes. “He’s boring.”

 

John scoffs, dismissively. “For you maybe.”

 

Sherlock grabs his violin. Raises it to his shoulder and stops. Lowers the instrument.

 

“Dr Craig D. Harper has had several partners, but he never commits fully. He’s an overachiever and his work always comes first. He has no hobbies, no passions. He likes his little routines and is repetitive in bed. His car is a testament to his numerous complexes and he visits his mother once a week like a mummy’s boy.”

 

When John speaks his tone is cold. “What you mean to say is that Craig is hard-working, loyal, and has had little luck in his love?”

 

Sherlock wishes he hadn’t spoken.

 

oOo

 

“Did you break up with Craig?” he asks almost two weeks later.

 

John’s facial muscles spasm for a moment and Sherlock spots several expressions he can distinguish, among them - curiously - panic. Frustration and resentment are the ones to stay.

 

“No.”

 

“Are you going to?”

 

“What? No. Why?”

 

Sherlock looks John up and down as he sits in his armchair, laptop on his knees.

 

“You don’t look like man with a burgeoning love affair. Bags under your eyes, mouth set in a grim line; you work a lot, you’re always tired, rarely talk and you tense every time there’s a text. The last time you dressed up to go out you asked me if there was any chance that I might need you for a case that evening.”

 

John looks away and - is that shame? What in the world could John be ashamed of?

 

“No. We haven’t broken up.” He’s silent for a moment. “Not yet anyway.”

 

Sherlock almost opens his mouth once again, but the past few weeks have quite effectively cured him of honest questions. John snaps more often than not and though his eyes are back on the screen, the expression on his face says plainly that if pushed, he’ll go ‘to get some air’. There are four good scenarios and seven flimsy guesses floating around in Sherlock’s brain about how this conversation could play out.

 

Before Sherlock knows what is happening he is up at the fireplace, his hand reaching for his secret stash.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Where did you put them?”

 

“Threw them out.”

 

It’s just so frustrating to have no clue which scenario he should choose. He grabs his coat and goes out.

 

“No one will sell you any!” John shouts.

 

Sherlock isn’t sure if the almost sing-song quality to his voice is real or imagined.

 

From the start Sherlock had known that one day John would tire of his social handicap, but it has taken too long. Sherlock has grown to rely on John’s acceptance, and now the biting questions and bouts of impatience are baffling.

 

What had John said back when he’d just moved in? Trust issues? Could it be that John has always trusted him with his physical wellbeing but never with matters of the heart and Sherlock has just been too challenged at relationships to realise?

 

Sherlock shakes his head slowly. Had it been anyone else he’d confront them with all his acerbity head on, but in this case he finds himself oddly reluctant. Would it help clear the air or just make John push back? Pull away? Sherlock decides to leave it for the time being.

 

oOo

 

By December Sherlock is ready to climb up the walls. Correction – he is climbing up the walls. The periodic table in his bedroom has come down at any rate. Unfortunately, John has hidden his gun (probably gave it to Mrs Hudson for safekeeping) and gone on a date. The blender offered a distraction for twenty-three point seven minutes. And John is out with his boyfriend, and more writing implements have been sacrificed to the cause. An old-fashioned fountain pen is sticking out from between old bookcase boards.

 

“Mrs Hudson!” he yells, but the landlady either doesn’t hear or is ignoring him. “Tea!” he shouts, not actually expecting an answer.

 

He grabs his coat and bounds down the stairs because it is this or a cigarette, which he couldn’t get anyway because apparently John has now paid off everyone in the vicinity into not selling him any. He could take a few tube stations, of course… And that would piss John off when he found out. The idea had merit.

 

oOo

 

John, oh God, oh God, oh God, John! He manages to utter only the last word.

 

“It’s just a scratch, Sherlock, I’m fine.” John presses a tea towel to his wound.

 

“You’re bleeding, I’m calling an ambulance.”

 

“I’m a doctor, I can assess my own injuries thank you very much,” John says but his tone is less annoyed and more faint. He slumps into a kitchen chair.

 

“Nonsense.” Sherlock dashes into the living room for his phone. “You can’t dress the wound yourself.”

 

“Fine, but call Sarah, I don’t need an ambulance.”

 

“A&E then.”

 

“No, I hate waiting there. Besides, it’s not like I can put a coat on and it’s freezing.”

 

“You need stitches. I’m calling for an ambulance.” Sherlock starts dialling.

 

“No!” John’s grip on his wrist is surprisingly strong. “I hate strange medical personnel in my home and it’s just a scratch.”

 

Stitches, John.”

 

“Fine. But call Sarah. She can sew me up and tell you I’m fine, all right?”

 

They stare at each other for a bit.

 

“I don’t have her number.”

 

“Oh, for the love of- get me my phone.”

 

In the end Sherlock doesn’t even let John make the call, half-afraid that he’d tell her there’s no hurry or even to drop by the next day.

 

“Sarah? John’s hurt himself. Claiming he’s fine, but his wrist’s in ribbons, could you grab some bandages and come over? He’s refusing the ambulance and he needs stitches… No, it was a domestic accident… No, I said accident, not violence. There was no violence involved… What? No it’s…Just get here, all right? … Yes. Thank you.”

 

Sherlock disconnects and sets the phone on the table. He sits next to John and offers him another tea towel, but the other man shakes his head.

 

“She’s on her way. How come you’ve managed to stay friends with her? Your other exes hate your guts.”

 

“She’s special, I guess.” He shrugs.

 

Sherlock takes a peek at his face, but there’s no more than a ghost of a smile. Fondness, affection? Love? Sherlock’s not sure.

 

John has a natural talent for making friends, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. One ex out of a dozen is bound to be more tolerant than others. Besides, John has a boyfriend now.

 

It’s only two long hours later, after the ex has arrived, bandaged the wrist, listened to the ‘funny’ story involving the blender’s loose blades, drunk some therapeutic tea, and finally scarpered off to wherever she came from in the first place, that Sherlock feels he can take a breather.

 

He relaxes on the sofa opposite his wounded flatmate. “I should have… told you about taking the blender apart.”

 

“Yes, you should have.”

 

John sounds very casual and Sherlock glances at him.

 

“I’m sorry,” he says with put-on indifference, but it sounds disdainful instead.

 

“What?” John looks startled.

 

“You heard me.” Sherlock adopts his best mask of nonchalance.

 

John’s eyebrows are raised. “Yes, I did. I’d better mark it down in my calendar,” he adds almost good-naturedly.

 

Sherlock frowns. “Aren’t you angry?”

 

“How would that help? Besides, it’s not the first time you’ve caused me severe physical discomfort. On the scale of one to ten it’s a four at best.“ He smiles.

 

Sherlock finds himself smiling back and there’s a moment where they just sit and look at each other. John swallows thickly. There’s something in his eyes and Sherlock is suddenly leaning slightly forward. He raises his hand to touch his friend’s cheek. John’s eyes widen and he jerks back. Sherlock’s hand drops and he tears his gaze back towards the fireplace.

 

“Well, lately you have been rather angry,” he resumes as if nothing happened. To his surprise, his voice is even and casual. “Snapping at anything. I wasn’t sure if it was work or life in general, or Craig or… me.”

 

John nods. Sherlock senses waves of tension coming off John, hears him clearing his throat and turns to look at him. John’s face is a picture of utter misery and regret. When he opens his mouth to speak, Sherlock panics.

 

“I just remembered, we are out of analgesic.” He jumps up. “I’m going to drop by the chemist, it might close soon.”

 

He never wants to see John looking at him like that again.

 

oOo

 

Sherlock is leaning on the kitchen door frame. His arms are crossed over his chest, spine taut with raw tension. His anger has been simmering for days. Even standing still is now a struggle.

 

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he says quietly.

 

John stills, but resumes his tea preparation after only a moment.

 

“What? Where do you get that from?” His attempt at casual is less than convincing and they both know it.

 

“Don’t insult my intelligence, John. Even Anderson would’ve picked up on that.” He puts his hands into his trouser pockets. “You come home late, you eat, then go to your room. I know you don’t sleep, because I can hear you pace every ten minutes.”

 

“I don’t pace every ten- it’s not…” He shakes his head, standing at the counter with his rigid back towards Sherlock. “I’m not actually avoiding you. Not everything in my life is about you, you know!”

 

“I’m aware,” Sherlock mutters bitterly before he can catch himself.

 

John whirls around.

 

“Some bloody awful nerve you have there!” he almost yells. “Is it not enough that during cases I chase after you like a faithful puppy, run your errands and take your bloody phone calls. I cook, shop, clean and even text for you while you’re sprawled on a comfy sofa! You interrupt my dates, have no respect for my privacy, and you keep body parts in our fridge! And for some silly reason I just let you! So I ask you now, what - more - do - you - want from me?”

 

“You’re being hysterical,” Sherlock says, his voice flat, face impassive, but something in his demeanour makes John’s shoulders slump as he looks away.

 

“Right. Sorry. It’s just…” He shakes his head in a dejected manner. “Look. I really didn’t want to do this over Christmas, but… I think I need to move out.”

 

The words are like a physical blow and the answering ‘no’ gets stuck in Sherlock’s throat. John sits down at the table and nudges the other chair out for Sherlock. There’s a moment of stillness before Sherlock can make himself move to sit down.

 

“I’m sorry, Sherlock,” John repeats.

 

“No need.” His voice is rough.

 

“No, I went a bit off the handle just now. You know I don’t really mind the housework and all of that stuff.”

 

“Don’t lie,” Sherlock says harshly. “It’s unproductive if you can’t do it well.”

 

“I’m not-“

 

“I- I know I’m a nightmare to live with, all right? I know that. You’ve said it enough times and I even warned you before you moved in! I know I’m not cut out for relationships. I-“

 

“Sherlock, it’s okay. I know, okay. Just take a deep, slow breath. Just breathe. All right? Better now?”

 

He breathes and it gets easier.

 

“You want to move out.” Sherlock’s voice is still flat with disbelief.

 

John nods. “I think it’s for the best,” he says quietly. “No, let me finish, please. It was just… well. I’m sorry for being so irritable lately and for the snapping and… well…My feelings have been all over the place for the last several months and…” John’s voice turns shaky for a moment but he braves on. “The first thing you have to understand is that I really didn’t mean all the things I said about following you around and the cooking and everything, because I’ve never really minded that-“

 

“I can do the washing myself.”

 

“You are missing the point.”

 

“Right. The point is that your feelings have been all over the place and I’m using you.”

 

“No, Sherlock. No, you are definitely not using me. Or if you are then I’m quite happily letting you. No, my point is that I was just angry and spouting rubbish. I know that you value my friendship in your own way. I apologise.”

 

Sherlock nods. Looks at John’s honest and keen expression and gets furious.

 

“Right. Good one. Only you forgot one seemingly insignificant detail.”

 

John’s eyebrows furrow.

 

“I’m not of average intellect. In case you’re still in doubt, it means stupid.”

 

John sits up straight, no doubts biting words on his tongue, but Sherlock cuts him off.

 

“According to you, you’ve been emotional for several months (about Craig, I presume), but you’re decidedly not angry at me for using you as unpaid labour, so you and I are fine. Good! Fine! But why move out then? To move in with Craig perhaps? Yes, it’s the next logical step. Except no, it can’t be, because you two just broke up last Thursday! It wasn’t difficult to deduce, by the way,” he adds the last one more calmly. “Admit it, you wanting to move out because I’m being impossible to live with seems a much more feasible theory. Unless you’re lying about something or withholding facts.”

 

John rubs his forehead with his thumb. “I can’t believe you actually want to talk about it.” He sounds weary and put out. “You know as well as I do that Craig has very little to do with it.”

 

“Right. So it must be my deplorable flatmate manners.” He lifts his chin in confirmation. “Because housework is negotiable, you know.”

 

John frowns, confused. When he speaks, he sounds shocked. “You really don’t know?”

 

Sherlock stares at him in frustration. “I wouldn’t be asking if I did, would I?”

 

Slowly John slumps in his seat. For a long minute, he stares searchingly into Sherlock’s eyes and sighs. “You really don’t know.” This time he sounds bewildered. “Come on, Sherlock, with your powers of deduction it is impossible for you not to know by now. Or at least suspect.”

 

The unexpected anguish in John’s gaze makes Sherlock’s heart beat a rapid rhythm. All of a sudden he has a heavy feeling in his gut. He wants to say ‘stop, don’t tell me’, but John’s gaze is holding his and he can’t speak, look away or even breathe properly.

 

Finally, John clears his throat, looks down at his hands and starts, “Over the course of the past several months I’ve come to realise that… there is a certain… disparity in the way we … feel about each other.”

 

And with just a few halting words Sherlock’s carefully constructed world crumbles. He blinks and focuses his eyes on some distant, blurry part of the kitchen counter.

 

“Disparity?” he repeats.

 

“Yes.”

 

Sherlock feels John’s eyes on him, but cannot look at him. “I don’t understand,” he denies.

 

Sigh. Silence.

 

“Love, Sherlock. I’m talking about being in love,” John explains quietly.

 

“Is that what it is then?” Sherlock pauses. “Love?” His voice cracks on the word.

 

“Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is,” John says gently, as if he’s afraid that otherwise Sherlock will fall into pieces. As if it’s not too late already.

 

Sherlock nods, acknowledging, raises his head and levels a determined gaze toward the man he’s apparently in love with.

 

“And your solution is to move out?”

 

“I…” John’s voice falters. He looks down and his eyes tear up.

 

He looks absolutely miserable. John is in pain, and Sherlock hates himself. He’s never seen John cry before and he never wishes again, but right now, he can’t look away.

 

“I don’t understand,” he says then. “Why would you want to move out? If it’s been like that for months, then why does anything have to change at all?”

 

“Because it hurts,” John admits as if it’s obvious, which it probably is.

 

Sherlock just nods again, because evidently he’s just utterly useless at relationships and John has probably at least a Master degree. After all, while he started to realise his feelings only several weeks back, John has apparently been aware of them for months and months now.

 

“I don’t mind,” Sherlock says after a minute and immediately winces, because John’s reaction is a painful choke-sob-laugh. “Sorry,” he adds, ashamed but at loss as to how he has managed to hurt John even more.

 

It’s secondary school all over again. Childhood, hurt friends, bewildered relatives, his mummy in tears and him, unaware of what he’s said wrong or how to make it better. An obscure monster in a china shop, destructive without purpose.

 

“It’s fine,” John says then and his smile is sad, sad, sad, resigned and so understanding it cuts Sherlock like a blade.

 

Sherlock swallows. “I don’t like seeing you hurt, but I don’t want you to move out either.”

 

“Neither do I, but if I stay here for much longer we might not be able to hold on to our friendship and I don’t think I can risk that.”

 

For the first time in years Sherlock feels like crying, but he seems to have forgotten how. Now it all just burns inside of him.

 

“I don’t understand.” His voice is hoarse. “I’m prepared to give you anything you ask for. I’m not going to... Anything that I’m able to deliver, John. Anything at all for you to stay. Just stay.” Sherlock knows he’s begging, but he can’t stop himself.

 

“I’m sorry, Sherlock.”

 

Sherlock swallows thickly and nods. “And it… this disparity… It’s hurting you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I don’t understand,” he repeats brokenly.

 

“I know you don’t,” John says but it’s not an answer at all and Sherlock wants to hit something.

 

“And there’s nothing I can do or say to make you reconsider?”

 

“No.”

 

Silence.

 

“But… If you move out now? You will be back?”

 

“God, I hope so.”

 

“When?”

 

“I don’t know. As soon as I can.”

 

Slowly, Sherlock feels his customary coolness return and his brain picking up speed again.

 

“And how is this moving out supposed to help?”

 

“Distance… should help the feelings to abate. Theoretically.”

 

Sherlock nods.

 

“Theoretically?” he repeats after several seconds.

 

John shrugs. “It usually does.”

 

More silence.

 

“So basically, you’re just going to wait for the feelings to abate?”

 

“More or less. Yes.”

 

“Right. So I’m just going to have to trust you with that then. Seeing as I’ve got no prior experience.”

 

John smiles sadly.

 

“And is there anything I can do to help it?”

 

“No, I don’t think so. You just live your life. Don’t pay too much attention to me or my problems. I’ll be fine.”

 

“Of course you will.”

 

For some reason John winces and Sherlock looks away. He’ll make sure that the feelings go. Or if they won’t, he’ll make sure that John believes that they have. He will make John come back no matter what.

 

Sherlock stands up and takes John’s favourite tea out. “When are you going?”

 

“In the morning I think. Harry won’t mind. Much.”

 

“Want any help with packing or carrying?”

 

There’s brief silence before John answers, “No, thank you.” And after some more silence he adds, “Actually… I think I’d prefer if you weren’t here at all while I go.”

 

His words are calm and measured and Sherlock’s hand stills over the mugs. He doesn’t move again until John’s footsteps have faded away.

 

oOo

 

There are small mementoes of John all over the place; not many - John’s always been quite fastidious – but they are there and Sherlock can’t ignore them nor put them away. Mostly it’s not actually John’s possessions, but some books he’s moved around, the half-eaten cake in the fridge – now decaying -, even dirty socks found amongst his washing result in a pang in his chest.

 

Sherlock forgets to eat, which is not that different, but the last time he went out he felt curiously light-headed and it took him a while to realise what might be the problem. No nagging is a good thing, of course. Except that he misses it.

 

As per the norm some part of Sherlock’s brain is constantly processing three to seven excuses for John not being here at the moment. He’s at work or at the grocer’s, out with his army mates, or even having his hair cut or visiting Harry. However, he also can’t shut down the process that reminds him that John is actually really gone. That he’s not here and won’t be any time soon. Sherlock wishes he could afford to delete the information.

 

oOo

 

Sent:
21:13 4/1/12 John Watson
-Case. You coming? - SH

Received:
21:22 4/1/12 John Watson
-Right now?

Sent:
21:23 4/1/12 John Watson
-142 Malcolm Crescent. Will you come? - SH

Received:
21:26 4/1/12 John Watson
-Sorry. I’m in Brighton. Let me know if you need me to come over later.

 

Sherlock doesn’t text back.

 

oOo

 

“Freak.”

 

“The body?”

 

“All alone today? Where’s your boyfriend?”

 

Sherlock shoulders past the woman.

 

“Is John coming later?” Lestrade asks, but Sherlock ignores him too and crouches over the body.

 

“Male, late twenties,” he starts after a couple of minutes. “Does an odd mix of jobs, mostly as a waiter. Either he’s recently lost some kind of white collar job and can’t find anything suitable (possibly because of embezzlement or some other indiscretion which resulted in bad references) or he is still studying for some reason. Could be an aspiring artist or actor, but doubtful. Died somewhere outside, but dragged in here after death. Hit with a blunt object to his head; most probably in a fight or at least a struggle; in any case he didn’t go down quietly. If you can find the murder scene there might be witnesses. The murderer is about five foot ten, either bulky or overweight. Probably male, except if they had an accomplice, but I doubt that. The murderer left this way and was in a hurry; probably ran away in panic, there should be witnesses among shop keepers in that street.”

 

He leaves without answering any other questions Lestrade has.

 

The next day he arrives at the station to go over any new possible findings and to explain his theories. He hasn’t texted John again; he can take a hint. Sherlock sees people speculating about him showing up alone again, but the only comment he hears is from Donovan about being dumped. He snarls at her. He feels dumped, which is crazy because an intimate relationship with John has never been in the realm of possibilities in the first place.

 

All through January and February, Sherlock works. He goes through cases like a rocket through space except without the awe for the stars. He takes on everything offered by the police and solves some private affairs; is offensive, and complains about everything. He even undertakes things for Mycroft. Most times he forgets to ask for compensation and forgets to eat and sleep, but at least some of the time he forgets.

 

He ignores the inquiries about John’s absence and misses him terribly. It is difficult to work without an assistant, but even when there is someone at the scene who actually cooperates (not Anderson), it only makes Sherlock miss John even more. He wonders how he could possibly not have noticed how essential John had become to him.

 

It’s not so bad, though, because Sherlock has a plan. It is unfortunate that it involves waiting, but needs must. If John wants him to get over his feelings, he’s going to show him that he has. Step one in his plan is pretending he has forgotten. He’ll wait two weeks more before executing the next step.

 

He will get John back.